1 in 5 nurseries inspected since September inadequate or require improvement

Ofsted has published its official statistics for Childcare Providers and Inspections, their latest report, since August 2021 before the Cost of Living Crisis.

Worryingly, inspection data from the report suggests that in the last seven months before March 2022, more providers received ‘Inadequate’ and ‘Requires Improvement’ judgments than previously and once ‘Outstanding’ providers found it difficult to retain their top grading.

Between between 1 September 2021 and 31 March 2022, 4,300 registered providers had a full inspection. Out of these, only 80% were judged ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’. From the 4,300 full inspections: 1,700 were first inspections, of which only 85% were given the top grades; 2,100 were providers that had previously been graded ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’, of which only 79% were able to achieve these grades again; the final group of 500 were those that had previously been graded ‘Inadequate’ or ‘Requires Improvement’, 72% improved according to Ofsted, while the rest retained their grading.

Figure 11: Overall effectiveness of active early years registered providers inspected between 1 September 2021 and 31 March 2022

These results were clearly impactful as of August 2021, 2,600 providers who had left the sector and had a full inspection 7% of these had received a judgment of  ‘Requires Improvement’ or ‘Inadequate’.

The new statistics also revealed that a huge number of providers had left the sector, with a net overall decrease of 4,000 providers between April 2021 and March 2022, the biggest drop in providers since 2015-16. In total, 22% (19,100) of providers have closed since 2015.

In terms of overall national inspections results, 96% of those eligible for full inspection were judged either good or outstanding, falling by 2 per cent since August 2021. The most recent reports highlight that results are much lower than the national percentage.

Demographic variation continued with inspection results, revealing that in areas of most deprivation 16% of providers were judged outstanding and 23% in the least deprived areas. Ofsted’s new data has also shown that of the 68,000 registered childcare providers there is an uneven distribution across areas of deprivation, with 16% located in the most deprived areas, compared with 22% of providers in the least deprived areas.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association commented: “Today we have seen the full extent of the challenges the early years sector is facing.

“The decline in numbers of providers and also the reduction in quality of provision – particularly in areas of disadvantage – is a huge concern.

“We have heard from our members over the past six months about many inspections which they feel have been unfair and ill judged. We also feel there is an inconsistency of inspection and that it very much depends on the inspector whether nurseries get a fair hearing or not.

“A sudden jump in those who require improvement or are inadequate must mean that either there is an inconsistency of inspection or that nurseries are really struggling with staffing requirements following the two years of the pandemic.

“The reduction in numbers of providers bears out our own research that more and more nurseries are forced to make the heart-breaking decision to close as a result of inadequate government funding and staffing challenges. Any nursery closing is one too many and devastating for the whole community.

“We will be raising this urgently with the Department for Education and with Ofsted to make sure that all settings are treated fairly and with compassion. And we will continue our battle for funding to meet spiralling costs of delivering high quality early education and care which is crucial for all children to reach their full potential.”

For the full report click here.

  • England
  • Inspection
  • Ofsted
  • Outstanding

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